Bleh...I was entirely unimpressed by anyone in the game, really. Obviously, I'm sure the conditions had something to do with that, but I hope some of these kids impressed some coaches over the course of the week. Only one NFL team has to believe in you.
So, I was impressed by Levi Brown. And the D-line for the south. And maybe Drew Stanton of Michigan State. Hard to tell whether he's a good QB on a terrible team or what. Kevin Kolb was supposedly impressive also, and he impressed me in his bowl game for sure.
ADMIN edit: please note that the overall sig limit is 12k - thanks! (Thanks Leber) AIM is like multiplayer notepad
I used to like Stanton at the beginning of the past season a lot more than I do now. He isn't a horrible QB, but he just can't step it up when the team needs him. At the end of the ND game, he simply didn't stop turning the ball over, and he contributed hugely to MSU's loss in that game.
Okoye, 19, set to play in Senior Bowl, audition for NFL Jan. 24, 2007 CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
MOBILE, Ala. -- Louisville defensive tackle Amobi Okoye wants to be a top 5 pick in the upcoming NFL Draft, help his team to the Super Bowl as a rookie and do a good job managing all that money.
Being able to legally grab a beer with his teammates will have to wait a couple of years.
The 19-year-old Okoye will become the youngest player to compete in the Senior Bowl, a showcase for senior NFL prospects set for Saturday.
"This is where I'm supposed to be," he said. "It's nothing new to me."
Besides, Okoye is hardly an unproven commodity. He signed with Louisville's Bobby Petrino as a 15-year-old in Huntsville, Ala., and grew into a muscular 6-foot-2, 312 pounds.
His resume reads more like a high-tech prodigy than a football player: College at 16. Degree in 3Â½ years. Job interviews with a couple of dozen prospective employers.
He started school at age 2Â½, skipped sixth grade and entered high school in Huntsville at 12 after his family moved from Nigeria.
And now on to the NFL, where he'll be facing offensive linemen who were playing high school ball before he was born.
"I'm ready for it," said Okoye, a second-team AP All-American. "It's going to be a challenge. Every time a challenge has been put before me, I've always been ready to accept the challenge and just go out there and do the best I can do.
"It's a lot of money for a 19-year-old. But that was my whole motivation last year. I wanted to be a 19-year-old millionaire. Hopefully I'll be that."
Okoye is projected as a likely first-round pick, and some NFL mock drafts have him going in the top 10.
It only took one Senior Bowl practice for Okoye to make an impression on North coach Jon Gruden.
"It's really unbelievable. He went out there and was knocking people around. He didn't look like he was 19," said Gruden, coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. "I've just got a tremendous amount of respect for him and how he's been raised. He's obviously a very smart guy to accelerate his academics the way he has. He may be young, but he is not lacking any physical attributes at this point."
Even with his hat turned backward and a somewhat skimpy goatee, the massive Okoye doesn't look 19. But given his age, teams are also going to gauge his mental maturity along with those physical skills.
"When you look at the tape, the guy's an explosive football player," Gruden said. "He really has a chance to play. You just worry about what he's going to do at night, 10 o'clock with no bed check. That's what I worry about with a 19-year-old kid. I worry about that more than anything else."
Teenagers with fat paychecks have been far more common in the NBA and pro baseball.
Okoye, however, points out a significant difference. Those guys either are fresh out of high school or have minimal college experience. He has been playing college ball since his first year out of high school and has a degree in psychology.
"I think college is something everybody should go through," Okoye said. "I learned a lot in college. I learned a lot about life, and I grew."
"He's very mature," said running back Kolby Smith, a Louisville and Senior Bowl teammate. "He's aware of everything that's going on around him. Like they say, he's wise beyond his years."
Okoye has big ambitions. He's "shooting for the first five" draft picks. He would love to follow in the New Orleans Saints' Reggie Bush's footsteps and play for a winning team as a rookie.
"I'm sure he definitely enjoyed his first year going to the NFC championship game," Okoye said. "Maybe I can do something like that and maybe go even further than that, to the Super Bowl."
He's used to people wondering if he'll be able to handle a big leap in competition and pressures at such a young age.
Okoye said that when Petrino was asked about his youngest signee four years ago, the coach "said he was going to wait until I started shaving before he played me.
"I went out there and showed him my capabilities and my talent, and he told them he went out and bought me a razor."
He played in all 13 games as a freshman. But he also showed glimpses of his potential upside with a breakout senior season.
Okoye had 23 tackles and half a sack as a junior. Those numbers jumped to 55 and eight last season, earning him unanimous selection as first-team All-Big East Conference.
Okoye wouldn't mind rejoining Petrino and position coach Kevin Wolthausen, both now with the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons have the 10th overall pick.
"(Petrino) helped me out with a lot of things and I helped him out with a lot of things," Okoye said. "I think we have a pretty good relationship. My old position coach is here, too. I saw him this week.
"Seeing him kind of brought a smile to my face."
AP NEWS The Associated Press News Service
Okoye looked real good all week. I think he needs to gain some weight as he only weighed 287 pounds. He showed tremendous quickness.
A Fleshner Fantasy wrote:I used to like Stanton at the beginning of the past season a lot more than I do now. He isn't a horrible QB, but he just can't step it up when the team needs him. At the end of the ND game, he simply didn't stop turning the ball over, and he contributed hugely to MSU's loss in that game.
I agree that was a poor game by him, but Stanton isn't the kind of prospect that you need to step in and lead right away. He's a guy who has all the components and tools of a NFL QB, but needs to be tought how to read defenses and make good decisions.
ADMIN edit: please note that the overall sig limit is 12k - thanks! (Thanks Leber) AIM is like multiplayer notepad
I heard that some scouts thought that Troy Smith was horrible in practice and shouldn't even be drafted. Obviously this is only a couple, but i didn't hear to many great things about Troy. I did hear he played fairly well in the game, but i didn't see the game
I wasn't in Alabama to watch Senior Bowl practice, so I have no firsthand knowledge of the week's goings on, and many reports from Mobile tend to conflict. For instance, I read one place that Penn State's Paul Posluszny was the Senior Bowl's standout linebacker and showed exceptional leadership skills. Another report said he was an obvious liability in coverage and failed to distinguish himself as any better than the third or fourth best player at his position.
Todd McShay reported on ESPNews that Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith's weigh in and practice performance guaranteed him a spot on the draft's first day. FOXSports.com's Jay Glazer said Smith didn't move his stock in any direction.
While Scout.com alleged that Miami of Florida defensive back Brandon Meriweather showed the cover skills to be considered at cornerback by NFL teams, others believed Meriweather's effort was wildly inconsistent, far from a quality clubs look for in cover corners.
So what I tried to focus on were the few constants in these reports. The consensus says the following players have either performed up to or fallen short of expectations. Some other notes from Senior Bowl week are included below the player profiles.
Griffin had no problem convincing most he was first-day worthy after leading the Longhorns in tackles the last two seasons. That's quite an accomplishment when you play on the same defense as Michael Huff, Cedric Griffin, and possible first-round corner Aaron Ross. He has experience at both free and strong safety, but because of his productive tackling, lack of ideal size, and ball-hawking style, Griffin's NFL position was uncertain.
What he did: Griffin stepped right in with the corners during one-on-one drills and held up against some of the Senior Bowl's top wideouts. Tackling isn't stressed before Saturday's game, so Griffin proved he can be a capable "cover safety" in addition to a physical centerfield force.
What's changed: He probably solidified himself as a first-round pick, leapfrogging Florida's Reggie Nelson and the aforementioned Meriweather to slide in behind LSU's LaRon Landry. Atlanta, currently holding the No. 10 pick, is looking for someone to play opposite Lawyer Milloy, and Griffin would fit well.
Nebraska DL Adam Carriker
Height: 6-6 Weight: 292 Pre-Senior Bowl Grade: late first to early second round Projected Forty Time: mid 4.8s 2006 Stats: 52 tackles, 16 TFL, 7 SCK, INT, BLK KICK
An exceptionally slow start to his senior campaign raised concern that Carriker's breakout junior year may have been an anomaly. He finished strong, but Carriker's production still experienced a considerable drop off and his speed will never be elite. What position would he play? Is he boom or bust? Carriker had the makings of a risky selection, meaning his first-round status was clearly in doubt before this past week.
What he did: Carriker lined up at both the three (pass-rushing defensive tackle in a 4-3) and five techniques (containing defensive end in a 3-4) and was called the Senior Bowl's most dominant defensive lineman Monday through Thursday. He is also an especially intense personality, and displayed that to NFL team representatives.
What's changed: Barring something unexpected taking place between now and April 28, Carriker looks like a mid first-round, possibly top-ten pick. He's a power player that fits at two positions, giving him extraordinary value. It will be a shock if Carriker falls past the Steelers at No. 15. They're staying with a 3-4 for the time being but most likely will switch to a 4-3 in time and Carriker can be a starter in both schemes.
A Duke transfer who spent just one season at Division I-AA Delaware, Patrick arrived at the Senior Bowl a day late, as he was summoned to take Rutgers TE Clark Harris' spot for the North after Harris bowed out with a toe injury. In 2006, Patrick was a phenomenal addition to the Delaware program, immediately garnering first-team All-Atlantic Ten honors. However, there were questions about his straight-ahead speed, size, and fitness, and it appeared his upside would be as a solid NFL backup.
What he did: Patrick came in on Tuesday and immediately made his presence felt, hauling in everything "catchable" and blocking his tail off. Overcoming an inherent lack of top speed is hard to do, but Patrick showed his playmaking ability without having ample time to shed pounds.
What's changed: Patrick may have vaulted himself past Harris and into the top five of an especially weak tight end class. Only Arizona State's Zach Miller and Miami of Florida's Greg Olsen, both underclassmen, have shots to go in the first round. Patrick brings a Dominique Byrd-like skill set as an H-back/tight end hybrid and could be considered by a team like Minnesota, Chicago, or Carolina in the middle rounds.
Ten Others Seemingly Rising: Tennessee G/T Arron Sears, North Carolina State DT DeMarcus "Tank" Tyler, LSU WR Dwayne Bowe, Washington State WR Jason Hill, Florida State RB Lorenzo Booker, Mississippi State DT Antonio Johnson, USC C Ryan Kalil, Central Michigan LT Joe Staley, Tennessee CB Jonathan Wade, Auburn CB David Irons
Georgia DE Quentin Moses
Height: 6-5 Weight: 250 Pre-Senior Bowl Grade: late first to second round Projected Forty Time: mid 4.7s 2006 Stats: 33 tackles, 12 TFL, 4.5 SCK, FR
Moses' fall began right at the end of his junior season, during which he racked up 11.5 sacks and 20.5 tackles for loss and appeared a likely top-five selection. I saw an interview with Moses and he doesn't know why exactly his production slipped so dramatically in 2006, but it certainly did. So too has his draft stock.
What he did: Moses came off as a one-dimensional player during Senior week. He couldn't get penetration unless he was coming directly off the edge; all his effective moves were from the outside and he didn't display power. He's now being tried as an outside linebacker, which would put his athleticism to good use but also requires a transition period if you're not Kamerion Wimbley.
What's changed: Players like this make you think they definitely should've left school a year early. Good timing at the NFL Combine could save his Round Two status, and the Dolphins would be a sound fit for Moses if they like him that high.
Hall entered the '06 season as the top cornerback prospect and had a fine year overall. His stats aren't gaudy, but teams threw away from him for the most part. Hall was burnt for 100+ yards and a score by Steve Smith in the Rose Bowl, but it didn't seem to affect his standing among NFL draftniks; he still was ranked atop everyone's cornerback board.
What he did: He didn't stand out, and Daymeion Hughes and David Irons received accolades as the Senior Bowl's top rising corners. Hall's speed remains a question mark, as he was beaten by Fresno State's Paul Williams for a long score.
What's changed: He might need a 4.4 to save his mid first-round status. I'm speculating, but there may be concern that Hall's play has slipped of late due to his lofty billing. In the end, it's doubtful a corner-needy team (New Orleans or Baltimore) would let him slip out of Round One altogether.
The switch to Dave Waanstedt as head coach wasn't easy for Palko initially, but he had a strong senior season despite losing wideout Greg Lee a year early. Palko, a highly-rated signal caller coming out of the prep ranks, showed the grit and toughness to be a possible mid-round pick, but there remained questions about his arm, patience, and decision making.
What he did: Palko didn't answer any of the questions from a positive standpoint. Jon Gruden called him a "system player," which is a nice way of saying Palko's arm is weak.
What's Changed: Palko doesn't have the mobility to pick up positive yards, which magnifies his lack of ideal NFL arm strength. He was a quality college quarterback but there were at least ten other players deserving of his spot on the Senior Bowl roster. He's not certain to be drafted any higher than the seventh round.
Ten Others Seemingly Slipping: NC State CB A.J. Davis, Florida LB Earl Everett, LSU DE Chase Pittman, NC State G Leroy Harris, Rutgers TE Clark Harris (injury), Northern Illinois RB Garrett Wolfe (injury), UTEP QB Jordan Palmer, Ohio State DT Quinn Pitcock, South Carolina CB Fred Bennett, Fresno State CB Marcus McCauley
Left His Hands in Auburn?
Houston quarterback Kevin Kolb, on Auburn running back Kenny Irons: "He needs to get some hands, he's hurting our stats. They are still broken up, hopefully they get back together by Saturday because right now his hands are like his name, Iron."
Battle on the Interior
One exchange on the North side that kept everyone's attention was the one between Texas Tech guard Manuel Ramirez and Louisville defensive tackle Amobi Okoye. On the first day, Okoye beat Ramirez with an array of speed moves, including a spin, but Ramirez countered with his trademark power and the two continued to battle all week. Both showed the attitude teams are searching for. Ramirez, a pure mauler of whom opinions vary, may have helped himself the most. Despite his 287-pound weigh in, Okoye won't fall out of the first round.
Versatility Is Key
Purdue DE Anthony Spencer spent time at outside linebacker and has a great chance to play there in the pros. Spencer, who led the nation with a bloodcurdling 26.5 tackles for loss, and may have upped his stock more than any other prospective '07 draftee in 2006, has a shot to go in Round One if he tests well at the Combine.
Syracuse CB Tanard Jackson was moved to safety by new Buccaneers secondary coach Raheem Morris, and seemed to flourish in his new digs. Morris called Jackson a "banger," and it looks like the former Orange(man) increased his value despite an up and down week overall.
Did You Know?
Tennessee DT Justin Harrell, the No. 2-rated player at his position according to most, tore his biceps against Air Force in Week 2 but refused to sit out against Florida the next week, started, and made three tackles. Texas DE Tim Crowder, a base 4-3 end who will go on the first day, threw a one-hitter and batted .400 as a senior high school baseball player. Penn State RB Tony Hunt attended T.C. Williams High in Alexandria, VA, the school made famous by the movie Remember the Titans. Michigan State QB Drew Stanton hasn't had a serious injury since, but blew out his knee while covering a kick as a redshirt freshman and needed season-ending surgery. One scout called Nevada's Jeff Rowe the best senior quarterback not at the Senior Bowl. West Virginia LB Kevin "Boo" McClee, a potential first-day selection, was struck by lightning as a child. Arkansas LT Tony Ugoh had the longest arms at the weigh in. Dwayne Bowe had the longest arms among the skill players. Ryan Harris, Mike Mayock's third-rated offensive tackle, was featured on MTV's True Life before entering Notre Dame in August 2003. Nebraska QB Zac Taylor, the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year, was not invited to the Senior Bowl, but does date the daughter of Texans assistant head coach Mike Sherman.